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Did Johnson & Johnson Knowingly Sell Defective Hip Replacements?

Though widely hailed as breakthrough medical devices when they first came onto the market, experts now recommend that patients avoid them. The onslaught of problems (which seems to span all metal hip implants, regardless of manufacturer) is one reason that Johnson & Johnson has been phasing out their DePuy ASR implants. Of course, the phase-out allows a manufacturer to retire a device gracefully, despite the fact that a full-blown hip implant recall is warranted in these cases.

What did Johnson & Johnson (DePuy) Do Wrong To Cause Hip Implant Injuries?

As the authors of the British Medical Journal, The Lancet, said, the problems with metal hip implants that surgeons have discovered, could have been determined with adequate pre-market studies and regulation. If Johnson & Johnson did their homework, there would be a lot fewer people with these hip implant problems. The reality, though, is that a medical device manufacturer always makes more money by sending a defective device to the market than they do by canceling a project.

In 2009, the FDA told Johnson & Johnson that it was rejecting the DePuy ASR hip resurfacing system. That letter went one step further by telling Johnson & Johnson that all the DePuy metal-on-metal implants were suspect because of metal poisoning problems (See Hip Device Phaseout Followed FDA Data Request, New York Times). Regardless, these implants are still being implanted into patients.

Expert orthopedic surgeons are convinced that these metal-on-metal hip implants are defective and should not be used. However, Johnson & Johnson’s strategy is to sell the remaining stock load of implants and then convince their doctors to use other hip implants.

The Problems with Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants

One problem with metal-on-metal hip implants is the failure rate. These devices cease to function properly much sooner than other hip implants like ceramic-on-ceramic. The failure rates are particularly higher for the larger size metal heads, and also higher in women. When these devices fail, patients will require revision surgery and implant of another hip replacement. These surgeries are costly, painful, and carry their own set of risks. The overall failure is 6.2% after five years, according to a recent study in The Lancet.

Another problem is metallosis (metal poisoning). The rubbing of metal-on-metal can cause metal fragments of the hip implant to break off. This can cause pain, inflammation, and difficulty walking as those particles enter the body and bloodstream. In some cases, the metal particles may cause the development of tumors. The immune system may be involved, and damaged tissue can die and cause necrosis. The best way to determine if a patient has metallosis is through a blood test, which can detect unsafe levels of toxic metal in the body. Patients with DePuy ASR hip implants sometimes have 100 times (or more) the normal level of chromium or cobalt metal in the blood.

Contact Us If You Think You Have A Defective Hip Implant

Our product liability lawyers have been investigating the hip implant manufacturers for years, and we believe they rushed these devices to the market without establishing a safe track record through product testing. Because of their negligence, consumers with hip implants experience pain, the need for replacement surgeries, and possibly worse consequences. If you have questions, contact us at 1.800.553.8082, or online for a free hip replacement lawsuit consultation.

For More Information

  • The Lancet: Recent Medical Journal Article Reveals Problems with Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants